Hickson leads N.C. State to another home win over Virginia Tech
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—Freshman J.J. Hickson scored 21 points to lead North Carolina State past Virginia Tech 73-63 on Tuesday night.
Courtney Fells finished with 14 points and freshman point guard Javier Gonzalez added a season-high 11 for the Wolfpack (15-7, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who never trailed, blew much of a 19-point lead and then pulled away to deny the Hokies their first victory over N.C. State in Raleigh in the modern era.
A.D. Vassallo scored 16 points and Jeff Allen added 15 to lead Virginia Tech (14-9, 5-4), which entered in third place in the conference but had its three-game winning streak snapped.
The Hokies used a 17-8 run midway through the second half to cut the deficit down to 54-48 and get back in the game. Vassallo then made it a five-point game when his driving layup made it 68-63 with 1:12 left.
The Wolfpack then hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute to seal it. Hickson finished 13-of-17 from the free-throw line.
Gavin Grant also finished with 11 points for N.C. State, which built on the momentum of its last-second victory against Wake Forest two days earlier and has won consecutive ACC games for the first time this season.
N.C. State enjoyed yet another hot-shooting night against coach Seth Greenberg’s team, hitting nearly 54 percent of its shots against one of the stingiest defenses in the ACC. A year ago, the Wolfpack shot 66 percent—their best shooting performance in an ACC game since 1982—and were 11-of-15 from 3-point range in an 81-56 rout in Raleigh.
N.C. State’s six-game winning streak in the series is the Wolfpack’s longest active streak against any ACC opponent.
Deron Washington added 12 points for the Hokies, who shot 51.6 percent in rallying from a deep first-half hole.
Early on, Virginia Tech hardly resembled the third-best team in the ACC. The Hokies missed 10 of their first 11 shots, had just four points midway through the first half and failed to get to the free-throw line in the opening 20 minutes against a middle-of-the-pack N.C. State defense.
Virginia Tech didn’t crack double digits until Allen’s dunk with 5:19 left before halftime. But that only made it 27-10—the Wolfpack took their largest lead of the half moments earlier when Grant’s steal and fast-break dunk made it a 19-point game.
N.C. State shot better than than 56 percent in the half and outscored Virginia Tech 16-4 to begin the game. They did it without forward Brandon Costner, who didn’t play after injuring a rib during practice.